Where do you see this technology in the near future?
Prefabrication as such is not new. It has been around for decades. Awareness of sustainability, optimization, and cost efficiency is what will continue to drive prefabrication. Digitalization and knowledge in Central Europe help to bring this success to all world markets.
This is also dependent on the different continents and countries. In Europe, with its high labor costs and difficulty in finding skilled workers for construction sites, we have little choice but to do perfect work in the office towards prefabrication. Robots building the parts in the factory are the only way we can make these products affordable. Europe values quality. That much is certain. In some other countries, such as Singapore in Southeast Asia, governments have recognized a need and achieved high speed and efficiency in building construction through high parameterization and the use of prefabrication. They do little work at the construction site; buildings are prefabricated and delivered instead. Countries where construction still is highly manual often aim to increase quality. Precast construction helps with automatic measurement and digitization to erect high-quality buildings there as well. North America is experiencing a similar development in timber construction. They, too, suffer issues from the lack of availability of skilled labor. It would be cool if we could assemble buildings like Ikea furniture.
Another thought: It doesn’t always have to be the typical large prefabrication plant. There is a development towards small local prefabrication, where wooden modules or specific elements could be precast in concrete and finished quite locally on the construction site. This can shorten paths and perfect processes.
This trend is clear in America as well as in Africa. I think it will continue there. The possibility exists, but I think Central Europe does not necessarily need it as we are already well-equipped with precast plants. Other countries or continents often have limited resources and use mobile plants. Many options have rarely been implemented, even though the ideas have been on the table for almost 15 years. African or South American countries may find this a satisfactory solution to push prefabrication. Prefabrication is indispensable to implement these visions of the future of industrial building.